Decades of developments and implementations in the field of high-rate anaerobic wastewater treatment have put the technology at a competitive level. With respect to sustainability and cost-effectiveness, anaerobic treatment has a much better score than many alternatives. Particularly, the energy conservation aspect, i.e. avoiding the loss of energy for destruction of organic matter, while energy is reclaimed from the organic waste constituents in the form of biogas, was an important driver in the development of such systems. Invoked by the present greenhouse alert, the energy involved is nowadays translated into carbon credits, providing another incentive to further implement anaerobic technology. Anaerobic conversion processes, however, offer much more than cost-effective treatment systems. Selective recovery of metals, effective desulphurization, recovery of nutrients, reductive detoxification, and anaerobic oxidation of specific compounds are examples of the potentials of anaerobic treatment. This paper presents a survey on the state of the art of full-scale anaerobic high-rate treatment of industrial wastewaters and highlights current trends in anaerobic developments.

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